turkey PM

Turkey PM to step down at May party congress

ANKARA: Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced on Thursday he would step down as ruling party chief at an extraordinary party congress on May 22, meaning he would also quit as premier.

“I declare that we will hold our congress on May 22,” Davutoglu told reporters in Ankara after a meeting of the central committee of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

“I don’t think I will be a candidate in the next congress in the current circumstances,” he added. According to AKP party rules, the party chief and premier are always the same person.

Divisions between Davutoglu and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that had been rumoured for months erupted into the open on Wednesday, with the two leaders holding crisis talks at the presidential palace that failed to resolve the conflict.

With some AKP officials openly weeping in the press conference room, he said the end of his term was “not my choice but a result of necessity”.

Davutoglu became premier in August 2014 when Recep Tayyip Erdogan was elected head of state after more than a decade as prime minister.

In an emotional statement in which he took no questions, Davutoglu gave a long description of his achievements as premier. “There is no feeling of failure or regret in making this decision” to step aside, he said.

Amid reports that his departure was the result of a split with Erdogan, Davutoglu said he would not criticise the Turkish strongman. “Whatever happens, I am sticking to the promise I made. I will continue a committed relationship with our president until my last breath.”

“No one heard or will ever hear a single word from my mouth, from my tongue or my mind against our president. He also said he would continue to serve as a lawmaker for the AKP even after he steps down.

But Davutoglu hinted that divisions within the AKP were in part behind his decision to quit. “In both (past AKP) congresses, I was elected party leader by consensus. I will not be a candidate for the party leadership if there is no consensus.”

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